Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will campaign in Texas at a get-out-the-vote rally for Ted Cruz on Friday along with other prominent Tea Party leaders like Jim DeMint.
Palin will lead a cadre of conservatives, including Texas and National Tea Party leaders, political figures like former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and media personality Glenn Beck, who will campaign for Cruz this weekend throughout Texas.
Conservatives have long felt the Republican Senate primary in Texas between Tea Party candidate Cruz and the moderate, establishment Lieutenant Gov. David Dewhurst is this election cycle’s most important contest.
The runoff election is on Tuesday, July 31. Early voting started this week, and two independent polls showed Cruz holding a lead over Dewhurst, but Cruz’s fate in the runoff will be determined by how enthusiastically his Tea Party base, which powered him to leads in those polls, turns out to vote for him.
And the fact that Palin, a star of the conservative grassroots Tea Party movement who has successfully endorsed several underdog candidates, is trekking to Texas to campaign with Cruz shows how crucial this race is to conservatives and how excited the Tea Party is about Cruz’s candidacy.
Cruz has repeatedly called the Texas Senate primary “ground zero” in the battle between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment. Cruz has presented himself to Texans as a fighter who conservatives could trust to not go “wobbly” when he gets to Washington D.C. on issues, such as reducing the debt and spending and repealing Obamacare, that are important to conservatives.
At their first debate, Dewhurst said he did not support a wage tax when his office had sent out a press release boasting about his role in passing such a tax. Dewhurst also said he had not supported amnesty in that debate, and then it was revealed his office took down a 2007 speech in South Texas from the lieutenant governor’s website in which he advocated a guest worker programs for those in Texas illegally. Cruz has said “the Dewhurst amnesty” was broader than the one advocated by Obama. And, on two occasions during debates, Dewhurst was called out for fibbing about details such as releasing his tax returns on time when he did not and claiming that he had received the endorsement of the NRA when he had not.
All this has led to a final week of campaigning in which Dewhurst has thrown the kitchen sink at Cruz in a last-minute attempt to change the momentum back in his favor.
In the third and final debate between Cruz and Dewhurst this week, Cruz joked that when he started in this race, he was at 2 percent in one poll — and that poll’s margin of error was 3 percent. Cruz has come a long way since then, largely because of the grassroots Tea Party voters in Texas have provided him with many boots on the ground while Cruz has received air cover from some of the most important conservatives on the national level, like Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, and Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Mike Lee (R-UT).
Cruz’s candidacy is also important for conservatives because he is a symbol of how Republicans can appeal to minority voters with bold conservatism instead of liberal-lite moderation, which many in the Republican establishment have been tempted to do.
The late Andrew Breitbart saw Cruz as one of conservatism’s rising stars, and those like Palin will try to help push him across the finish line this weekend in Texas to ensure his star does not dim.